Sands excited to get going back at Mildenhall
As the nation starts to cautiously believe that football could finally be about to come home, John Sands has done just that.
After several seasons away, it was confirmed earlier this week that the centre-forward had agreed to rejoin his hometown club Mildenhall Town.
Sands first joined Mildenhall in his early 20s and was an instant hit, with his predatory instincts making him a firm favourite among the Recreation Way faithful.
Higher-league clubs came calling and he went on to play for the likes of Bury Town, Leiston, King’s Lynn Town and most recently, Needham Market.
But now aged 31, the clinical marksman has decided that the time is right to return to where it all started.
“I always said that I wanted to play for Mildenhall again, especially while I am still young enough and fit enough to have something to offer,” said Sands, who will formally sign for the club later this month, once he returns from working in The Netherlands.
“This really means a lot to me. Mildenhall is my home – I went to school there and I have a lot of friends there.
“Growing up, I really wanted to wear the Mildenhall shirt and I was so proud the first time that I got to do it. It was like a dream come true in a way and I am excited that I get to wear the shirt again.
“I love the people at the club, they have always made me feel welcome and I cannot wait to start scoring goals for them again.”
Sands – a former Isthmian League Premier Division Golden Boot winner – will join a side whose major Achilles’ heel during their first ever season at Step 4 last term was finding the back of the net.
Mildenhall scored just 54 goals in 46 Bostik League North Division matches – only two sides had a leaner record.
That was the major reason behind manager Dean Greygoose’s eagerness to secure Sands’ services – and the man himself is confident he will deliver the goods.
“I have always scored goals and as long as I am fit I always will,” he added.
“People can take that as arrogance, but it’s not, it’s confidence – you need that belief as a striker. As long as I get good service, I can be the missing piece of the jigsaw.
“I would like to get at least 20 goals, and if you can get there, who knows? Another Golden Boot would be great.
“I proved a lot of people wrong who thought I would not be up to it when I first joined Mildenhall and I can do it again.”
While Sands is excited at the prospect of restarting his Mildenhall chapter, he was also keen to pay tribute to the club and manager that he is leaving behind.
Sands has forged a close bond with Needham boss Richard Wilkins over the years, with the pair having also worked together at Bury and Leiston.
“It was tough to tell Wilks that I was leaving because he has been more than a manager to me,” said Sands.
“He knows how to get the best out of me and has always had my back.
“It saddens me, but he understood my reasoning and so did the other people at the club.
“I have massive respect for Needham, they are a really good club.”